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Blackhawks shut out Wild, take 3-0 series lead

by Corey Masisak /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks have struggled to win Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in recent years, but they found a solution Tuesday.

Not allowing a goal is one way to reverse that trend.

Corey Crawford made 30 saves and Patrick Kane scored for the Blackhawks, who moved within a victory of reaching the Western Conference Final for the third consecutive season with a 1-0 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Chicago leads the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round series 3-0. The Wild will try to avoid elimination Thursday in Game 4 (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

"It's never easy, especially against this team in their building," Crawford said. "They came hard the whole night, but our guys stood strong. Especially at the end, we were all together as a unit. Good effort by our [defense].

"That was good for myself but as a team too, it was great for us defensively to have no goals in a game."

The Wild had several quality chances, but they couldn't get the puck past Crawford. Their frustration grew; groans from the crowd and sticks slamming off the boards near the Minnesota bench became the soundtrack of the final two periods.

Minnesota has four goals in three games in this series, and six in the past five postseason games against Crawford dating back to Game 5 last year. Chicago has won all five of those games.

"Crawford, he's a star against us," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "He's (Martin) Brodeur, he's (Patrick) Roy. He's everybody. We've got to find a way to solve that."

Kane scored the lone goal at 14:06 of the first period with the Blackhawks on the power play. Patrick Sharp flubbed a pass in the neutral zone, but Andrew Shaw seized control and connected with Kane, who went in alone on Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and put a shot between his legs for his sixth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kane missed the final seven weeks of the regular season because of a broken clavicle. The original prognosis was he could need up to 12 weeks, but Kane was in the lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators and is second in the NHL with six goals and 11 points in the postseason.

"The puck was bouncing there. I think [Sharp] was trying to come over to me," said Kane, who sustained the injury exactly 10 weeks ago. "It got to [Shaw] and I think he said he heard me calling for it, so he just kind of threw it over and I got it and tried to shoot it quickly."

The Wild played like a desperate team for the first six or seven minutes of the first period, but Crawford kept them off the scoreboard. Chicago controlled the tempo from there and created several great chances during the rest of the period.

Minnesota's desperation became frustration in the second. Jason Pominville missed the net from the slot. Crawford denied Mikael Granlund on a breakaway. Nino Niederreiter had the puck fall onto his stick at the top of the crease, but he couldn't jam it in.

The Wild continued to press for a goal in the third, creating nearly all of the best scoring chances in the period. There were a couple of scrambles near the net, and Crawford had to dive to his right to keep the puck from trickling across the goal line with his blocker to keep the best chance out.

At one point, Zach Parise threw the puck into the offensive zone after the Wild were called for offsides, then slammed his stick.

"Frustration that we couldn't score. That's about it," Parise said. "We didn't score one, so I don't think we did enough. There's got to be something more we can do."

The Blackhawks produced more offense to win two games at United Center to start the series. They needed a Teuvo Teravainen goal late in the second period to prevail 4-3 in Game 1 after yielding a three-goal lead earlier in the period.

It was not as close in Game 2. Kane scored twice, and the Blackhawks received key contributions from their other star players in a 4-1 victory.

Yeo said he's never been in this situation, down 3-0 and trying to avoid a sweep. The Wild are going to need to find some offense to extend the series. Kane has scored as many goals in this series as the Wild, and he's outscored them 3-1 since Game 1.

"As of right now, it's definitely frustrating," Niederreiter said. "We had plenty of chances to win this hockey game, I feel that we played a really good game. We played solid and we had enough chances. Now we have to find a way to regroup and we got to win [the] next game."

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